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Plymouth Hospital

Derriford Road, Plymouth, PL6 8BG

01752 775861
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During this procedure your surgeon can diagnose reasons for changes in your bowel habits, pain, bleeding from your anus or weight loss. They can also look for early signs of cancer

Sometimes a polyp (small growth) is the cause of the problem and the endoscopist may be able to remove it during the procedure. 

Your consultant will advise you on how to prepare for your flexible sigmoidoscopy. Be sure and advise us of any medication you are currently taking

What happens during flexible sigmoidoscopy?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy usually takes between fifteen and twenty minutes. You may be given a sedative to help you relax before and during your sigmoidoscopy.

Patients usually lie on their side on the examination table. The endoscopist will place a flexible telescope (endoscope) into your anus. Air will be blown into your large bowel so that they have a clear view. The endoscopist will be able to look for problems such as inflammation or polyps. They will be able to perform biopsies (take samples) and take photographs to help make the diagnosis.

After your flexible sigmoidoscopy

If you were given a sedative, you will normally recover in about an hour. You may feel a bit bloated for a few hours but this will pass. You may experience slight bleeding just after this procedure.

A member of the Healthcare Team will tell you what was found during the flexible sigmoidoscopy and will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need. You should be able to go back to work the day after the flexible sigmoidoscopy. 

Most people make a good recovery and return to normal activities following flexible sigmoidoscopy.

Specific complications of flexible sigmoidoscopy:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Breathing difficulties or heart irregularities
  • Puncture of the colon
  • Bleeding
  • Incomplete procedure